Now: You Want Me To Go Fast?

The time had come to start breezing horses. And I was excessively nervous.

To be honest, I’m not much of a speed freak.

I know, I know, I talk about galloping like it is some kind of evangelical religion that I want to convert everyone to. And hey – that really does sum up how I feel about it. But quite honestly, I’ve always been something of a hand-galloper.

Three examples (and reasons why I was so nervous):

First, I always came in with time penalties on the cross-country course. Always. And I could never figure out why. It turns out that when I thought I was hauling ass across stream and meadow, I wasn’t. That’s all. I was going much, much more easily than I thought. One of the disadvantages to training by yourself, which I have nearly always had to do, is that no one is around to say, “Um – Natalie? That isn’t 450 meters per minute. That isn’t even 350 meters per minute. That is a working canter.” Another problem, of course, is that to this day I have no idea how far a meter is. “Meters per minute” is quite possibly the worst standard of measurement ever. United States Eventing Association, take note.

Second, if you read the First Gallop post from a few days ago, you know about my first actual galloping experience on a racehorse – not  a good one. The continuation of the story is: that gallop actually cost me my job. It went down like this: “Oh, I have a voicemail! Oh it’s work – let me listen.” VOICEMAIL: “Hi Natalie, it’s Jerry. We’re going to have to let you go. Don’t come in on Monday. We need to find someone that can breeze horses. Sorry. And have a nice wedding.” (I had a very nice wedding – the following week – no thanks to Jerry.)

And, third, if you have been with me for years and read my old Blogspot blogs, you might have read about how I rode a two-year-old on a crazed, mad gallop around a training track sans stirrups. Also, not a great experience. Also, cost me my job. Also, it’s called latex wrap and you put it on stirrup irons. I know I’m not the first person to come up with that. 

And so working at speed has become two things to me: either something that I can’t quite figure out (i.e. why the heck do I have so many time penalties?) or something that is quite beyond my reach (only a true riding genius can keep their feet in the irons and go that bloody fast – and be able to pull up.)

I had it in the back of my mind that at some point, I’d be asked to work a breeze. And it was a nervous thought, one I didn’t like, so I ignored it. I diddled around jogging my horses, and then one morning I was asked to turn and gallop, and the horse broke out of a working canter and scared the living daylights out of me, and then after a few more times I realized they are actually easier to gallop than to jog, and I got over it. I started to enjoy galloping. But galloping, and breezing, are two different animals.

Watching another rider breeze one of “my” horses (I’m quite possessive!), I knew I was going to have to do it myself sooner rather than later. But there was, and is, a learning curve there. Items that I’d never paid attention to suddenly loomed. Where was the 3/8ths pole, and how on earth would I know how fast I was going? Was there a possibility of going too fast? Did I have to ride with my stirrups hiked up like a jockey’s?

I was starting to feel a little nervous. A lot nervous.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Now: You Want Me To Go Fast?

  1. Augh. You both inspire and terrify me on occasion, Natalie.

    With all the graceless exits I’ve made off horse’s backs the last two years, I’m still reticent to just canter. And Bar has the loveliest canter you can imagine. He in fact prefers it over the trot by a rather large margin.

    And yet.. before my last fiasco (off Lena, not Bar), we galloped quite rapidly down the beach and I loved it.

    It seems I am calmer on the trail than I am in the arena. and that appears to translate quite obviously to him.

    Shocking.

    Uh oh. I feel a blog post of my own coming on..

  2. I actually have issues getting Lucky into what I’d call a gallop. He’ll do it, grudingly, on the track, if I jam my hands down on his withers and remind him I’ve got a whip, but a breeze? That would take more motivation than he possesses at this point, I think. To me, he always feels slllllloooooooowwwww even when I know from the tearing eyes and the fact the turn’s coming up that he’s not. We’d probably get “Uh..that was 500 mpm, hon.”

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